Chargers add depth on defense with three free agent signings

After adding two cornerbacks, one safety and one defensive tackle through the NFL draft, it would have been easy to assume that the Los Angeles Chargers were done accruing talent on the defensive side of the ball. After all, they had added three free agent starters, including All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson, and traded for All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

The assumption that the Chargers were done would have been wrong. Since the 2022 NFL draft ended on April 30th, the Chargers have added another three more free agent veterans on the defensive. The Chargers signed New England Patriot free agent linebacker Kyle Van Noy to a one-year contract, and signed Denver Bronco cornerback Bryce Callahan to a one-year deal worth $1.272 million.

The Chargers then added defensive end Morgan Fox, who played with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. Fox signed a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.035 million and a signing bonus of $1.505 million, for a total salary of $2.540 million. The Chargers will pay Van Noy a base salary of $1.5 million and a signing bonus of $750,000, making the salary cap hit for one year a total of $2.250 million.

Van Noy will add depth behind Khalil Mack. Both Mack and Van Noy are basically edge rushers. Van Noy has been very productive over the past three seasons with 17.5 sacks. He has played in three Super Bowls with the Patriots and has 73 regular season starts and has started in eight playoff games.

Charger head coach Brandon Staley likes the versatility that Van Noy brings to the defense. "Kind of his trademark is that he can do either, he can play on the edge, he can play behind the ball," Staley said. "He's a very versatile player, but what he does better than anything is that he is extremely instinctive and he's a playmaker. That championship experience, he's a Super Bowl champion, he's been a part of top-five defenses, really, wherever he's been. I'm really excited to join up with him."

Staley loves players that are versatile, and Callahan also checks that box as well. Callahan adds depth and can play on the outside or in the slot. "He can play effectively at both spots," Staley said. "But the experience and the play-making ability that he has within our defense, he's been a part of some of the top defenses in the NFL throughout his entire career. He's been a playmaker. We think that he has real toughness. I'm excited that he's with us." Callahan has 45 career starts in his six-year NFL career.

Fox played for Staley when he was the defensive coordinator for the Rams in 2020. In the 2020 season, Fox had his best season with six sacks, eight tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, Fox will likely back-up Jerry Tillery at defensive end. Staley praised his “toughness” and seemed excited about his addition to the roster. Fox is a close friend of Charger defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, who the Chargers signed as a free agent.

On paper, the Chargers defense looks much improved. Pro Football Focus has Mack and Joey Bosa rated as two of the top five edge rushers in the NFL. With Pro Bowl safety Derwin James and Jackson in the secondary, the defense is loaded with stars and depth.

In an interview after an OTA practice, Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen was asked about how this teams compares with Charger teams of the past that he has played on. “I wouldn’t say it feels different just because I’m the competitor that I am,” Allen said. “I always feel like we’re going to go 17-0 and win the Super Bowl. Does it look different? Absolutely. Just about every position has All-Pro, Super Bowl, superstar talent. You can see it when we practice. It’s amazing.” Charger fans should be excited as well.


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